An investigation is under way after a 5.2 m Saltwater Crocodile, Crocodylus porosus, was found dead in the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton in southern Queensland on Thursday 21 September 2017. The animal, which was killed from a single shot to the head from a large calibre firearm, is thought to have been over a hundred years old when it died, and is the largest wild Crocodile recorded in Queensland for three decades. The reason for the shooting is unclear, as Saltwater Crocodiles are protected in Queensland and killing one carries stiff penalties, though locals have speculated that the killing was carried out either by thrill seekers or somebody who was startled by the Crocodile and afraid. Such a large animal is likely to have been the dominant male in the area, and wildlife experts are concerned that its death may lead to a rise in aggression from other male Crocodiles in the area, as they compete to take over the vacant role.
5.2 m Saltwater Crocodile found dead near Rockhamptoon in Queensland on 21 September 2017. Queensland Police Service.
Saltwater Crocodiles are one of the few Crocodile species not considered vulnerable to extinction, being found from India to Australia and inhabiting many areas that Humans shun, such as Mangrove forests and islands without fresh water. However they are protected in Queensland and other Australian states where they are present, as they are considered an important part of local aquatic ecosystems, and were hunted almost to extinction there between the 1940s and 1960s.
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